How My Trip to Japan Helped Me Discover Common Ground

I've been with ChatWork for over a year now in the Silicon Valley office. I translate, adjust, and add content so it's clear and relevant for our English-speaking customers. This includes ChatWork's website, blogs, announcements and documents.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to go on a life-changing internship in ChatWork's country of origin, Japan. Through this enriching experience, I learned a lot about ChatWork's corporate culture in Japan, how my team functions, why traveling alone is healthy, and how a company becomes successful. During my stay, I also had plenty of time to see the sights, taste the cuisine, and experience the lifestyle. Basically, I was an intern by day and a tourist by night.

Progressing as a team

The relationships we share and cultivate are important to ChatWork. Therefore, the corporate culture is very team-centric. Here are a few examples.

Bonding Time

Every morning before we begin the day's tasks, we gather together and talk about anything that is on our mind. Often times, we talk about food, hobbies, or an experience. This corporate practice is an act of respect; it tells employees that they matter and are worth the time to listen to no matter what their role is in the company. There will always be work to be completed, but this moment of connection is a reminder that it all comes down to human interaction and supporting one another.

Give me an "A"!

After 15 minutes or so of bonding time, we get the team psyched up by giving ourselves a hoorah.

Communication anytime, anywhere.

We have several offices in Japan as well as the US. To ensure that we feel connected and are able to communicate consistently despite differences in location, we use ChatWork video chat 24/7.

Communicating as a Team

Communicating with the team was smooth, quick and even fun. This was possible thanks to ChatWork’s functions. I was a member of several chat groups including one that was specifically for internship related purposes. There, I was assigned tasks from my supervisors. I asked them questions, shared my progress, and received feedback all in one spot which saved me a lot of time because I didn’t have to search through piles of irrelevant messages.

Another group chat was for recreational events, for example, things to do, places to visit, and people to see. Together, the ChatWork team and I brainstormed and planned itineraries for the following weeks. When I had time to explore Japan by myself, they shared directions, pictures, and other helpful information regarding the places I wanted to visit.

I also partook in a chat room where we were free to talk about anything any time. The occasional cat pictures and jokes made the atmosphere playful and kept a continuous connection between team members from all levels and locations. ChatWork gave me the necessary tools in order to multi-task effectively. I communicated with several groups at the same time, collaborated with coworkers on English projects, and was aware of what the other departments were up to while working on my own tasks.

Culture shock

Experiencing culture shock is the fun part of traveling because it allowed me to live in a completely new way. Even within the ChatWork office there were many cultural differences.

The shoe to slipper system

For the sake of cleanliness, shoes are not worn in households; this rule also applies in the office. I usually take my shoes off when I'm inside anyone's home, but the shoe system in Japan is on a whole new level. Once the shoes are removed, they go into cubbies. Slippers, which are worn indoors, are available for employees and guests. If I had to take a quick trip outside, there are shoes available. If I had to visit the restroom, there are slippers for that purpose, too. It was a constant reminder that great efforts are taken to keep the area clean.

Rajio Taiso

Rajio Taiso means "radio exercise" and is done every morning in Japan. I did Rajio Taiso back when I was attending a Japanese language school, so I was very familiar with it. What I didn't know was that Rajio Taiso is a daily activity at ChatWork. At midday, the music starts and we begin our mini workout in unison. After sitting in a chair for hours, I thought that Rajio Taiso was helpful with getting me re-energized.

Everybody cleans up

We have cleaning days once a week at ChatWork. This includes dusting, wiping chairs, taking the garbage out, etc. By cleaning our work space ourselves and not relying on a janitor's help, it made me feel like it was more of a home than just an office.

Nomikai

In America, it’s rare for me to mix my professional and personal life. However, in Japan, every day is team bonding day. Seeing coworkers outside of the office is quite normal. Several days a week we would meet up for dinner, shopping, karaoke, etc. Through this constant exposure, it helped me learn more about my peers and thus created a happier working environment.

New Experiences

I've had the opportunity to experience Japan from two different point of views, as a tourist and an intern. One moment I'm discovering that taking baths is a regular daily routine and the next I'm learning about the business communication style.

The cogs behind ChatWork

Besides doing my usual tasks, I got a closer look at how the other departments work. As a student, I hear about customer service, design, and programming in class. These concepts were abstract to me because I didn't experience it for myself or see it first hand. Through my internship, I finally got to see those roles in action and now have a better understanding of what I might or might not want to do in my future career.

Traveling solo

Traveling alone has a lot of perks. For one, it has forced me to leave my comfort zone. In all honesty, experiencing life on the other side of the globe made me uncomfortable, but in a good way of course. It’s healthy to be uncomfortable once in a while. By being uncomfortable, one is exposed to the unknown. If I was exposed to what I knew already, I would not have learned anything.

How a company becomes successful

ChatWork’s key to success is simple; being for the people. Believe in people’s dreams, support them, and always treat them as winners. Naturally, those who you’ve been kind to will want to pass on the favor. ChatWork is known to be the company with the happiest employees in Japan, and this is due to the fact that they are treated well. The staff loves working for the company and is more than willing to do an outstanding job. Our services are used in 183 countries by 80,000 companies and it’s all thanks to ChatWork employee-centric attitude.

I've seen driven people in my own country, but there was something about witnessing the passions of the people in another country that made my internship even more enriching. It made me realize we have a lot in common and can achieve greatness together; that's exactly what ChatWork strives to attain--understanding, teamwork and happier employees.